Iyke Ndubuisi is sure of what he wants and he goes for it. When he first started acting, he faced initial disapproval from people when he quit his high calibre bank job to become an actor, taking on interesting roles, including that of a psychotic in Ashvim Meshram’s ‘ENI’, the movie, which is already making waves in international film festivals around the world. ‘ENI’, the movie has been shortlisted for a range of awards for Best Feature at the Genre Celebration Festival, Shanghai, China. Adding to his belt features in ‘Wedding Party’ and series on Ebony Life Tv, including ‘Castle and Castle’as well as ‘Gidi Up’ season 3, Iyke Ndubuisi is headed for the top. This interview is loaded with so many wise words and insights into the Nollywood industry from the get go.
I ask Iyke to me about himself, how he developed his passion for acting and how he got into the movie business, and he narrates,
‘As a young person I have always been very good with my hands, coming up with ideas and I always saw myself as someday being in the entertainment industry, but for one reason or another, after school I had to work with government and financial institutions, and I have always been an entrepreneur. But in 2013, after having done a few modelling jobs for some corporate brands like MTN and Globacom, I took a decision to resign from my banking job. Of course everybody thought I was crazy because I had a great job. I learnt a lot it sharpened my marketing skills, my administrative skills and all of that, but that creativity in me was suppressed. And I wasn’t happy. So I left banking and came back fully into Nollywood.’
On the roles you have taken on so far, Iyke explains,
‘I have featured in over 40 movies with roles ranging from Doctor, Senator, Father, Priest, Red Cap titled Chief, Detective, Police Officer, Psychotic, School Principal etc. And I have been opportuned to work with Outstanding producers and directors like Tope Oshin Ogun in , ‘Ever After’, ‘We Dont Live Here Anymore’,Adeyinka Oduniyi on ‘One Minute Man’ & ‘Beneath Her Veil’, Chris Enegi on ‘3Some’, Nodash on ‘Gidi Up’ season 2, Mo Abudu & Kemi Adetiba on ‘Wedding Party 1’ and Niyi Akinmolayan on ‘Wedding Party 2’ by Ebony Life tv, Tosin Coker & Temidayo Abudu on ‘On The Reel’, Dj Tee on Glo tv commercials, Funke Akindele on ‘Jenifa’s Diary’, Emem Isong on ‘Personal Assistant’, ‘ At Your Service’ and her latest, ‘Lovers & Sinners’ season 1&2, Mary Njoku of Iroko tv on ‘Single Ladies’ Dr. Henry Obidi on ‘Letter to the Pope’, Chris Idornigie on ‘The Johnsons’ to mention a few and honestly they have all impacted my career tremendously
On his take on how the Nigerian movie industry has grown from the 1990s till now, he elucidates,
‘Well, Nollywood like we all know has grown tremendously. The way things are done now are different from the way things were some in the 90’s and before the 90’s. There is a whole lot of technological advancement that is being applied in terms of production and post production. So we are almost getting there. We are close to competing with our counterparts in the western world. It has grown in terms of the quality of actors. A lot of people now appreciate the fact that they need to get trained and retrained so that they can become the best at their craft. Even on the production side, there are a lot of very sound and professional directors, editors etc. who schooled abroad and have won both local and international awards. So things are getting better. The stories are better told. I think there’s a future for Nollywood.’
On his favourite actors both local and international, Ndubuisi says,
‘Well, before I came to Nollywood, I was not a movie watching person. I was more into local and global. I like international actors like Denzel Washington. A few of them. I really don’t watch so many movies , but for me, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde is good. RMD (Richard Mofe Damijo) is one guy I always want to see in a movie because of the professionalism he deploys his craft. Erm there’s a lot of them but when you come to Olu Jacobs, Joke Silva, those are people I really look up to. They are very good. They have been consistent even at their age. They are on top of their game. In terms of young people, we have Somkele Iyamah-Idahlama, Genevieve Nnaji. There are a whole lot of them. I think they are all doing very well. I’m still trying to get back into the habit of watching movies especially now that I am also in the industry.’
‘First I would like to start with the Cannes Film Festival which has been very consistent over the years. They are all doing well. Their main objective is to showcase content from producers all over the world and then it’s critiqued and that helps the producers know the areas where they are going to develop themselves. They are all doing well because they are all positively impacting because if you keep producing and there is no such platform for your jobs to be critiqued, then you might end up having issues. I think they are there to act as checks and balanced for producers globally. I think they are a very good partnership for the movie industry globally. For instance, there is this movie featured in, titled ‘Eni’, the movie. It is a spiritual film, shot in Ikorodu and I played the time of a psychotic. In fact, when I got there, I didn’t see the script till I got there, I didn’t see the script till I got there and I thought to myself ‘What are people going to say about me?! Why am I featuring in such a film? Why did I accept such a role?’ But the film has now turned out to be celebrated globally. As I speak, the Genre Celebration Festival, Shanghai China nominated ENI in 1. Best feature drama and 2. Best Actress Category Film. As at today, it has been listed to be screened at 6 international film festivals across the globe, particularly Europe, America and Asia, and it’s still counting. I’m so glad that the script I almost turned down is now being celebrated globally.
Most of the roles I get to play are corporate roles like a doctor or lawyer or managing director, but when I got the that script to play the role of a psychotic drink, for that matter, fortunately for me, my background is in psychology from the University of Ibadan. So I had to do research on the traits and behaviour of a psychotic and the kind of things they do and it really helped me to deliver on that character, because I didn’t really say anything. I just delivered the behaviour. I had no lines and I thank God it is being celebrated globally.’
On his ideal acting character, he explains,
‘Well, to be honest, there is really no ideal character. To be a successful actor you should focus on being versatile. The more versatile you are, the more sought after you would be. Because there are quite a number of actors who are stereotyped for a particular role and it limits them because when producers are looking for people who want to play different roles, they don’t go near them because they already know this is what this person likes to do. So if you are versatile, if you can play the role of a drunk or priest or any kind of role, it makes you a better actor. You get recognised and of course you get more jobs, more money and fame. So I don’t have an ideal character but I also have my limits to be honest. I cannot go to the extreme in certain roles. I don’t want to be specific, but there are certain things I cannot go to the extreme on. I like to be modest and professional. Most importantly I like to deliver on any character I am given, but I don’t like to go to the extreme. If you give me a script and I like it, I will deliver on it.’
As regards actors diversifying into things like movie production, directing as well as script writing, Ndubuisi thinks it is very important.
‘I would like to use myself as an example and the benefits I’ve gained from going that way,’ he says. ‘I recently rounded up a film making training with a film school in Nigeria called Phillips College of Technology. It is a monotechnic actually. I actually went in there to brush up my acting skills. I was also given an opportunity to focus on production management, directing and editing. So as I speak with you, I can actually produce a movie from beginning to end. So, I am no longer just an actor. I could also play the role of production manager, I can direct a movie because we were all given an opportunity to shoot a 15 minute short film. We were grouped into a group of 10 comprising 5 each. And we were all given equipment to carry out the project. It’s been a wonderful experience. I think actors should also look at that and it means multiple streams of income. So if you are not getting acting jobs, you are getting jobs as a director or production manager or editor, so it is a good idea.
In the next 10 years, Iyk says he ‘hopes to be among the most sought after 10 best actors, by God’s grace.’
Iyke expatiates on his pet peeves about the acting industry,
‘Erm to be honest with you fame is good, but it can be so difficult to manage and it gets into some people’s heads. Some people tend to become arrogant and treat people any how. When people try to come close to them They don’t appreciate the fact that people appreciate what they do is why they come close. They just irritate them with their behaviour, so I really do not like it. You are supposed to be a role model in as much as you are trying to protect yourself. There’s also the issue of punctuality and professionalism when it comes to production. Sometimes, you are asked to come on a set and they tell you call time is 8 o’clock and you go through all the stress of getting there even before 8, and production does not start until afternoon or evening. And the worst part is sometimes you are just kept in a room or somewhere and nobody explains to you the reasons they are not shooting. So, those are the issues I have.’
Lastly, Iyk Ndubuisi gives a word to up and coming actors,
‘My honest advice is if you want to go into acting or come into industry, go and get trained. Talent is one thing, education is another. Education and the knowledge you get from your training add value to your talent. I started about 4 years ago with my talent. Yes, I have done some work, but I can tell you that the little I have some from the training I have attended, I know more now. I understand the language of the industry, and I can do so many other things apart from acting, including working as a crew member. So training is very key.
You need to be humble and professional, and you need to relate with people and always have a positive disposition in your interactions with people